In re E.R.Annotate this Case
Four children were referred to the Mendocino County Human Services Agency, based on neglect. Their mother, who had a substance abuse problem, disappeared for days and left the children with their maternal uncle, Rafael, who was unable to provide adequately for their needs due to disabilities. The Agency had received seven prior referrals for mother and her children, members of the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians. The Agency contacted Cloverdale's Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), 25 U.S.C. 1901, who stated that Cloverdale Rancheria opposed placement with Rafael. Mother was eventually arrested; the children were taken into protective custody. Rafael indicated that he loved the children and had provided care since they were born. Social workers helped him apply for relative placement. No Indian homes were available. Mother initially requested that Rafael be considered for placement. The children, who were found to have multiple developmental, physical, and emotional problems, were ordered into long-term foster care. The court of appeal affirmed, rejecting Rafael’s claims that he was not given mandatory ICWA notices as an Indian custodian; that active efforts were not provided to prevent the breakup of the Indian family; that the detriment finding was defective; and that he was provided ineffective assistance of counsel. Although the juvenile court failed to promptly investigate his Indian custodian status, any errors were harmless, given that mother revoked the custodianship.